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Politics

Tsipras Slaps SYRIZA Ex-Minister’s Wrist Over Bribery Audio Tape

ATHENS — Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said his closest aide and a former Minister of State, Nikos Pappas, must explain what was going on in a secret audio tape discussing another ex-minister’s alleged demand to be paid bribes.

Breaking from his all-out defense of Pappas after release of the secret tape made by Greek-Israeli Sabby Mionis that appeared to suggest that former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos wanted money, Tsipras said there should be a clarification.

Pappas, who earlier said the tape had been edited to incriminate him and that he wasn’t talking about Papangelopoulos in portions that discussed alleged bribery.

Pappas appears to admit to knowing that Papangelopoulos had his “own agenda” and was “making a lot of money” from backroom deals, or “outsourcing,” with the indication Papangelopoulos wanted a bribe from Mionis. It wasn’t said for what. 

The tape was submitted to a parliamentary committee trying to determine Papangelopoulos interfered in a case in which SYRIZA said 10 rival politicians took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

During a session of SYRIZA’s political council, Tsipras said Pappas should amplify what he meant when speaking, and cautioned him and his party members to watch what they say because their words could be revealed.

Tsipras also ripped the ruling New Democracy of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who ousted him in July 7, 2019 snap elections. “Faced with such a ruthless system of power, all of us, and chiefly officials on the front line, must watch our every action and word,” Tsipras said, Kathimerini said.

Despite the light chiding of Pappas, he said his party is not corrupt and has integrity – during his 4 ½-year reign he blamed previous governments for being on the take – but, he added that given the revelation that, “each of us must assume the responsibility for their mistakes, oversights and slip-ups” and don’t repeat them.

After being defiant, Pappas pulled back a bit and said he now takes responsibility for part of the “illegally obtained conversation,” indicating he now said what he said he didn’t say before backing off in the face of Tsipras’ call for him to explain what was going on.

Pappas now says that after he said he wasn’t talking about bribery that what said didn’t reflect his true values and what he was doing was trying to calm down Papangelopoulos from being so cranked up.

“Mistakes in tone and substance were the pretext for attacks against us,” he said.

But the paper, citing sources not named, said Pappas was under pressure from other members of the political council for apparently embarrassing the party that has claimed it’s squeaky clean.

Former finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, the report said, was the hardest and told  Pappas to offer more clarity, adding that he did not feel he could join a future SYRIZA government if such behavior were to recur and, of course, if SYRIZA does win.

The committee investigating Papangelopoulos, who has denied any wrongdoing, has wrapped up is work after he walked out and refused to testify anymore, protesting that his rights were being violated. The panel is expected to compile its report by July 15.

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